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Author Topic: giving to the poor, turning the other cheek, etc.  (Read 2293 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ortho_cat
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« on: September 17, 2009, 04:01:20 AM »

It is clear that Jesus commanded us to give to the poor, help those in need, and to love and forgive others without condition.

My question is this. Say you meet a homeless individual on the street and they ask you for money. You give him/her some money. Later, you happen to see that person in the grocery store buying alcohol with the money you gave them. You see them again next week, and they ask you again for money. Do you keep giving money?

Or how about this.  Say you are in a relationship with a person who consistently hurts you or dissapoints you on an emotional level.  Every time they do it to you, you without hesitation forgive them, but they just keep continuing to do it to you. Do you keep forgiving?

How do we keep from people taking advantage of us in such situations? The majority of people in this world are predatory, that is, they prey on the weak.  If they see a sign of weakness in someone, they exploit it. (in this case, I refer to "weakness" as generosity or kindness).  If someone knows they can get something from you time in and time out, or they can do whatever they want to you and "get away with it", they will eventually use you as a footstool for their own purposes and walk all over you.  I know, not all people are like this, but many are.

Is there anything that we as Christians can do to avoid this or prevent this from happening?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 04:05:28 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 05:15:02 AM »

Is there anything that we as Christians can do to avoid this or prevent this from happening?

The short answer is "no," there is no way to absolutely prevent others from taking advantage of us.

There is no Christian formula that will ensure that others will not abuse our kindness. So all we can do is try to balance unconditional love and charity with sound wisdom and good judgment. This is not easy to do.

I usually give spare change to panhandlers if I have it to give. Most of the time they probably are going to use it for alcohol or drugs, but I don't know that for sure.  And maybe they will die if they don't get a drink or a fix very soon. Or, they could be an angel in disguise. On a few occasions I have actually gone to a fast food place and purchased a cheap meal and brought it back to persons that held a sign saying "Will work for food." Each time the people were very grateful and immediately began devouring the food.

The point is, I try to apply the Golden Rule in such situations. Giving a little bit of loose change requires no effort on my part, and it might make a world of difference to the person who receives it. But everyone has to make their own judgment in such situations.

Living with a perpetually abusive spouse, relative, or friend is a different matter. If they are persistent in physically or emotionally abusing you, then you need to separate yourself from them. You can still love them and help them without having to subject yourself to their constant abuse.

Turning the other cheek means that you don't reciprocate the violence being done unto you. It means loving your enemies unconditionally. But if you are able to nionviolently extricate yourself from an abusive situation, then it is certainly not unChristian to do so.

Being disappointed is a different matter. People will always disappoint us, and we will always disappoint others. If we look to people for fulfillment rather than looking to Christ, then we shall always be disappointed. So, I don't think that we should forsake relationships when the other party disappoints us. Disappointment and abuse are not the same thing. But hey, human relationships are tough sometimes; yet they afford us an opportunity to practice unconditional love and Christian charity.

OK, those are my brief thoughts for the time being. Excellent question.

Selam
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 05:18:22 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 11:54:04 AM »



Well said, Gebre.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 12:26:21 PM »

I'll second that, well said, Gebre!
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 01:16:54 PM »


I wholeheartedly agree with what Gebre has said.

If someone asks you for money, it is your duty (if you have money) to share with them. 
It is not for us to "judge" the other person as to what they need the money for.  Ours is to give, not to judge.

On the other hand the abusive relationship...ours is to forgive, however, we do not have to tolerate it indefinitely.

    And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matthew 10:14)

Christ did not instruct His disciples to remain and preach even when they weren't accepted.  Give it a try, if the people/person is not receptive to your teaching, move on.  Leave them behind.  Don't hate them, but, get yourself away from them.


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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2009, 01:48:42 PM »

Whenever you give to anyone, regardless of how many times you do it and regardless of how they do it, you are giving to Christ.  Christ said, "Whatever you do to the least of these, my brethren, you do also unto me."  Thus to judge what they do with what you have given them is to pass judgment on Christ. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2009, 02:32:16 PM »

My question is this. Say you meet a homeless individual on the street and they ask you for money. You give him/her some money. Later, you happen to see that person in the grocery store buying alcohol with the money you gave them. You see them again next week, and they ask you again for money. Do you keep giving money?
You just buy some food, like Gabriel said. I have to admit that I've never done this, but there was a little poor girl once who wanted me to buy one of her teddy bears. She said she needed the money in order to eat. So I gave her something to it (we were in a fast food restaurant), but she completely rejected my offer. I guessed that it was her parents that wanted the money... Undecided

Quote
Or how about this.  Say you are in a relationship with a person who consistently hurts you or dissapoints you on an emotional level.  Every time they do it to you, you without hesitation forgive them, but they just keep continuing to do it to you. Do you keep forgiving?
Yes. I don't mind that much when people hurt my feelings. Try to understand them, they're just souls that are suffering for not being with Grace. But what I can't stand is when people hurt my friends or family or the weak. By the way, if you're talking about a relationship between a man and a woman, then I don't think that adultery can be easily forgiven.

I guess that Gabriel is saying that it's not worth taking the risk. Maybe the man you just helped is a alcoholic or a junkie. But maybe he really needs the money. We can't know for sure and it's not worth taking the risk.
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 07:08:27 PM »

As we are called to be good stewards, by extension, are we not also called to encourage others to be as well with what we give them?
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 11:10:39 PM »

In my hometown some of the merchants sold gift certificates at a discount that were only redemable for food and non-alcoholic beveridges. This wprked for awhile until panhadlers started selling them toget money to buy beer and cig's.
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 03:07:51 AM »

It's important to note that in many large American cities, panhandlers are often able-bodied people with decent homes who panhandle because they get more money than working, and it's tax-free. In fact, there are often associations of panhandlers who coordinate begging spots, and if you are a real person in need, you risk a beating by soliciting without the permission of the group.

Across America, the bulk of people in need are less visible than the panhandler on the corner. Ordinary people, faced with hunger and homelessness, are much more likely to turn to churches and secular charities than beg on the street. If you really want to make a difference, tithe more generously and contribute to food baskets, because churches and pantries put those resources where they are most needed.
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 06:49:15 AM »

If someone approaches me and asks for money, I always ask them why. If they say food, I take them with me and buy them something to eat.

Being disappointed in a relationship - it works both ways! Do I disappoint my partner, am I an emotional barrier in our relationship? It's TWO people working at it. I could whinge all day (and night) about how my Mrs lets me down emotionally, but what would she say about me. When you point your finger at someone, there are always three pointing back at you.

This doesn't take into account violent relationships! That's a tough one! There are many Govt. agencies that help the woman out, but what if it is the man being abused? What if one is staying in the relationship only for the sake of children? What if, what if, what if?HuhHuhHuh? That's a tough one.

That's my dribble for the night.
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2009, 08:03:11 AM »

How do we keep from people taking advantage of us in such situations?
Firstly, I think we need to ask why it is such a Bad ThingTM that people might "take advantage" of us. The instruction to turn the other cheek, to give our cloak as well when we are sued for our tunic and two walk two miles when forced to walk one is about our true freedom, our true liberty, our courage. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) If I fear what others may do to me and cower before them, what dignity have I gained? If I fear being "taken advantage of", where is my prize? The only One to fear is God. Men can do nothing to me other than kill my body which is going to die one day anyway. Big deal! What is so "fearsome" about a power which is able to blow out a candle that is soon going to extinguish itself anyway? To cower in the face of this is to lose all my freedom, all my liberty and to lose even my soul.

The majority of people in this world are predatory, that is, they prey on the weak. 
I'm not sure that is true. In fact, in my experience, the opposite is true. People are, fundamentally, Good.

The majority of people in this world are stuggling
Yes, everone is struggling. Everyone is fighting a terrible, exausting war in their hearts. Thats why we must always be kind to them.

If they see a sign of weakness in someone, they exploit it. (in this case, I refer to "weakness" as generosity or kindness). 
Is generosity or kindness a "weakness"?  As I say above, it is the most liberating and powerful experience.
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2009, 08:32:56 AM »

The majority of people in this world are predatory, that is, they prey on the weak.

Goodness, I cannot disagree enough with this kind of blanket statement. As someone who travels mainly by hitchhiking (tens of thousands of kilometers amassed at this point) and who has entered plenty of random villages only to be fed, sheltered and even clothed by their inhabitants, I'm constantly amazed at how ready the average person is to help out someone they see as in need.
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2009, 03:37:16 AM »

The majority of people in this world are predatory, that is, they prey on the weak.

Goodness, I cannot disagree enough with this kind of blanket statement. As someone who travels mainly by hitchhiking (tens of thousands of kilometers amassed at this point) and who has entered plenty of random villages only to be fed, sheltered and even clothed by their inhabitants, I'm constantly amazed at how ready the average person is to help out someone they see as in need.

Ok, by predatory I mean that people are out to benefit themselves.  They take what they can from others in order to do so. "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile", and all that jazz.  Surely those of you who work in a corporate environment will agree with me on this? Perhaps most of you see society in general in a more favorable light than I do!  Tongue
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2009, 03:48:17 AM »


If they see a sign of weakness in someone, they exploit it. (in this case, I refer to "weakness" as generosity or kindness). 
Is generosity or kindness a "weakness"?  As I say above, it is the most liberating and powerful experience.

In most dating relationships I've been in or observed, there always seems to be a power struggle of sorts. The one who is able to guard themselves and their emotions the best usually has the "upper hand" in the relationship. I wish this wasn't how it was, but that is all I see these days. Those who are overtly kind or generous either emotionally or with their resources (money, time, etc.) often get taken advantage of in such relationships. (People end up taking for granted or abusing your kindness/generosity)  In this sense I am referring to it as a weakness.

I wan't really intending to debate over these issues, I just assumed most of them were painfully obvious. Oh well. Nevertheless, thanks for all your input.
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2009, 03:18:25 PM »

Above someone made this comment: "Whenever you give to anyone, regardless of how many times you do it and regardless of how they do it, you are giving to Christ."

This seems to be a stretch at hyperbolic exegesis.

The reality is that we must give to others in that same way as we love ourselves; which is relatively freely. 

and ...

Prevent what from happing?  Feeling like you were manipulated?  Feeling like you were lied or cheated out of what you gave freely?  Who can take from you what you give freely? 

When you give, you are fulfilling a basic principle of Orthodox living found as a virtue among the Saints.  However, you yourself have not yet acquired the virtue simply because you have given alms.  Your supposed to give alms freely and without constraint, but also with a cheerful heart. 

It seems to me that there can be a temptation to judge the godliness, righteousness and general good sense of those to whom we give alms as if we could(have) better manage(d) their lives and have kept them out of this difficult circumstance. 

It is dangerous to imagine that our alms should convert someone, why should they?  Do we water them (our alms giving) with our tears?  It is enough for us to know and rejoice that our names are written in heaven.
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2009, 07:46:04 PM »

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'"

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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2009, 04:40:28 PM »

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'"


"Whenever you give to anyone, regardless of how many times you do it and regardless of how they do it, you are giving to Christ"


Forgive me, but these two quotes have different messages.
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2009, 09:48:32 AM »

It seems to me that forgiveness is not about the other person but about us. When we truly forgive, we set ourselves free from them and their power to hurt us. It's like the "forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors." When someone wrongs us or hurts us, it's as if they "owe" us something - restitution. When we forgive, that debt goes away.
And apparently it is such an important spiritual "law," that if we don't forgive, we won't be forgiven.
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2012, 02:15:16 AM »

It is clear that Jesus commanded us to give to the poor, help those in need, and to love and forgive others without condition.

My question is this. Say you meet a homeless individual on the street and they ask you for money. You give him/her some money. Later, you happen to see that person in the grocery store buying alcohol with the money you gave them. You see them again next week, and they ask you again for money. Do you keep giving money?

Personally, I would say it's irresponsible to continue doling out money IF you know they'll spend it on alcohol or drugs.  There are other ways to give to them.
 
Or how about this.  Say you are in a relationship with a person who consistently hurts you or dissapoints you on an emotional level.  Every time they do it to you, you without hesitation forgive them, but they just keep continuing to do it to you. Do you keep forgiving?

In the NT, Christ exhorts us to forgive 70 x 7 times.  This doesn't mean that at the 491st offense we no longer forgive.  He meant to always forgive.  Now if you're being physically hurt, this still applies, but you should absolutely get out of that situation.
   
How do we keep from people taking advantage of us in such situations?

Yes.  Christ also exhorted us to be as gentle as doves but wise as serpents.  In today's parlance, the saying "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me." is quite helpful.  Be smart about it; learn from our mistakes.  Being charitable can take on many forms.   
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« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2012, 09:51:48 PM »

Many early Christians gave freely, even up to everything they had.

I personally believe that much of what I suffer is similar to the rich man in the bible that Christ told "to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow him".  Not because I'm "rich" in American standards, as I am pretty much "middle class" in American standards, but considering how we are in comparison to much of the world, we are millionaires.  Even our poor slums are shimmering paradises to India slums, or many Romanian slums, and many areas....

With that said, I also kind of wonder in America, why exactly there are homeless people.  We have an elaborate welfare system here.  The disabled homeless could at least qualify for SSDI, Medicaid, and food stamps... They'd also be able to get public housing....

However, I believe that it is important to freely give if possible, unless you absolutely know somebody is doing something to further harm themselves.  This would have to be somebody that you have witnessed "everyday on the way home" abusing the money.   I remember one person near my wife's old neighborhood home who panhandled, and they lived in a moderately nice apartment complex 1 block away.   We witnessed it and even asked the man if he lived there and he told us he did.   Needless to say we did not give to him, because we did not feel he was "poor".

By definition of poor, I try to imagine "poor" on a world view.   If they have public housing, food stamps, television, heat, air, and even drive, I would not give them money.  If they are homeless and drug addicts, I may give them money and encourage them to clean up their act somehow through scripture. (At least let them know that their body is the holy temple, and that God does love all his children).  If this drug addict would continually be doing the same thing without ever getting the message or the point, I would stop supporting them and no more green.

A person in real need, the giving should be endless, down to the clothes on our back.

As far as the abuse goes that's complicated, perhaps too much for a forum.   My opinion is that by scripture, "a wife's body is not her own, but her husbands, and his body is not his own, but his wife's".  "Two  become one flesh".   In this sense, I do not ever believe no matter what a wife should leave her husband, or a husband his wife.  Even in they both beat the crud out of each other.   Normally of course, the stereotype is that the man would beat his wife... I do not believe they should part.  The only excuse our Lord gave us was "cheating".

There are other instances of relationships though that are much less complicated that those in matrimony.   Relatives (non-nuclear family), part ways quick if there is abuse.   There is nothing binding them by scripture that I can find.

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« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2012, 11:23:43 PM »

There's nothing wrong with being judicious and prudent in how one gives alms. The same goes for how one deals with people in general.

The Lord said that the poor are always going to be around. What is the greater benefit? Giving money to someone who asks, but may just be lazy, or giving money to where it is definitely needed, where you know it is going to serve people's needs? I think the latter. We're not called to be careless stewards.
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« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2012, 11:29:05 PM »

How do you know who is lazy?
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« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2012, 11:31:39 PM »

I can comment on the part about homelessness, SSI, etc., from personal experience. First SSDI requires you having put a certain amount into the system, so it's not available to everyone. And getting SSI is a lengthy process. What happens if you lose your job and have no money or resources? You're out of luck. You apply for food stamps, SSI, etc... and you get medical and food stamps. The medical might get you to the point where you are diagnosed disabled, supposing that you can be organized and able enough to get to the proper doctors. That's something not always possible, ironically sometimes because of the very disability that causes all the problems to begin with.

Anyway, let's suppose you get the diagnosis from the proper authorities. Then you submit your info to the government and wait for the first rejection to come. After 2-3 years (sometimes longer, almost never shorter) you get that rejection. Then, if you are able, you find a lawyer who specializes in the area and is also ready to take you as a client. "But of course a lawyer will take you," you think, "there's money in it for them."  One would assume so, but that's not always the case.  Sometimes you get lucky though and a lawyer who rejects you refers you to another lawyer (speaking of which, what address do homeless people use to send and receive all this info? I've never thought of that... ??)

So let's suppose you get a lawyer and you file your appeal. I suppose you could also file an appeal without a lawyer. They don't really do anything special, basically just coach you so that your story sounds plausible but terrible--basically in line with what your medical records indicate, but the worst possible scenario that your records would allow for. Also, if you get nervous or whatever they can help with support there while the judge grills you and expert witness(es) at your hearing try to poke holes in your case.  Ok... but the appeal. You appeal and then wait some more time. All told it's going to take years, if you get it at all.

Then you apply for public housing. You might have tried to apply months in advance... but then if you didn't have money for the rent/deposit when they called your number then you'd be screwed and go to the back of the line anyway. And back of the line usually means a waiting list. So more waiting. You might get lucky and get hooked up with some social services that helps you out (e.g. giving you the money required to get a place). You might also be able to get a job after you had become homeless. Of course that's not as easy as some seem to think, especially the longer you're homeless. And the very reason you're homeless might be what prevents you from getting or keeping a job.

Such people, usually with mental rather than physical problems, would be helped by a civilized society to get out of their hole. And there are resources, and it is possible, but it takes time. It also requires the people to help themselves, and that is not always possible... because of the illness. Some people just don't care enough, or for some other reason aren't able to help themselves. A lot of people have no clue what this is like. If someone gets cancer or some other "physical" problem, it is always accepted that they can't do certain things or will have certain issues. On the other hand if it's a "mental" problem, people (even family/friends) usually say something about them needing to "man up" or "want to help themselves" or whatever. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes not. Often it's speaking from ignorance. The same person probably wouldn't say: "Gee, you have diabetes? All you gotta do is tell your body to stop being insulin resistant! Your pancreas probably already is working fine, why don't you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and conquer this? I don't understand why you need medical help? Just fix it! It's easy!" But this is essentially what many people with mental illness (and some other issues) are told by others.

Does everyone go through the above process? Not necessarily. I didn't. I was only homeless for maybe 5 weeks, I received help from family and the government, and I haven't been there since. However, this is because, while my illness(s) are debilitating, it is not to the extreme that I couldn't get things forced through the correct hoops. I also had family who helped me out for several years make ends meet. If they hadn't helped I would have been on the street. Not everyone is so lucky.

Of course that doesn't mean things are easy either. And most here don't realise the extent of my problems. If I may speak a bit more personally than I have before (in hopes that it gets people to understand the problems people sometimes run into)... people on this forum think I, for one example, change my beliefs every few weeks, or every few months, or maybe twice in one week. Ha. Sometimes I change it multiple times in one day. And every switch--say from Orthodox to agnostic--makes perfect sense to me in that moment. It seems almost a required thing to do, because it just seems like how things have to be. To be what I just was yesterday, well I can think of so many reasons that I can't be that anymore. Until tomorrow, when I switch back again.

And that's not just in religion--as though changing your entire belief system is a small thing anyway. Another area is education. That tends to change several times a week. Some people don't know what they want to do when they get out of school, so they switch majors while in college. I'm almost 33 and I change my major quite often--sometimes just a few times a month, but more often several times a week. In rare instances I change it several times in a day. And when I say I change it, I don't mean on a whim. Again, it makes perfect sense. And often I spend hours and hours reading about these areas of study/employment. I spend hours planning out what I would have to take this semester so as to transfer to another school, so as to set me up best for graduate school, so as to set me up for employment down the road, etc. (and yes, I've also tried to not change, tried to not worry about it, tried to make myself stick to something, tried... a lot of different approaches. Anyway...) It's not uncommon for me to plan 10 years into the future. And then after I'm done, 10 hours in the future, I change my mind. Btw, 2 days ago it was theology. Today it's mesoamerican archaeology. Tomorrow? I dunno. But today's idea of archaeology seems perfectly normal and sensible to me. I have 101 reasons that I can't do theology anymore, and 101 reasons why archaeology makes perfect sense. I've convinced myself that I needed to do something different. Threw away some theology books as well, because I'm not doing that stuff anymore.

And believe me, I don't go through these cycles because I haven't attempted to break out of them. I've tried over and over, all sorts of ways to break out. By the time I was 21 I had dropped out of vo-tech (about 4 months before I graduated) and dropped out of college twice. I had quit 5-6 jobs, usually by not showing up (or simply walking out). When I got married things improved in some ways, because I had a more direct/close/understanding support system. For a while I was even able to hold on to jobs here and there for about a year, though there were still significant issues. When my wife died I grew a lot emotionally, I made a lot of steps forward as a person. However, as far as stability goes I went backwards fairly fast. When she first died, I started back to school like 7 days after she died. I used school as a way of taking my mind off things, and got all As. In the 3 semesters (plus summers) since then I've been a 2.0 student. That's along with a bunch of withdrawals. Doesn't have anything to do with understanding the material, it's all about whether I can stay focused long enough.

Does this sound like a good way to live? Normal? And think about this--in spite of how screwed up I am, I am better off than a lot of people out there. Why are there homeless people? Some just run into some bad breaks having to do with their job, family, etc. It can take quite a while to dig yourself out, withg the length depending on how bad off you are and what resources you have available/are aware of. Other people are truly screwed up and screwed over.


--A few other notes. Regarding welfare, food stamps are supplemental, and do not pay for food for an entire month (unless you're eating Ramen noodles 24/7... and I would guess that some people don't have stove tops or microwaves available to them). Also, medical through the government does not guarantee you can just walk into a doctor and get help. Even if that doctor takes your medical insurance, there is no guarantee the doctor will agree to see you. I know, I've been rejected in that way.

--Sorry if too much personal info above. Life is odd. If you sat down for a drink or dinner with me I would appear perfectly normal, if a bit shy/awkward, unless I told you otherwise. But of course the truth is indeed otherwise.

--I hope I'm not going to regret saying all this  Smiley  And please for the love of God don't try to give me pointers on how to improve my lot in life. I've been seeing therapists for 16 years, I've got all the "tools" and "coping strategies" an such that I need  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2012, 04:55:12 PM »

How do you know who is lazy?


If you happen to know that a person is simply asking for alms because he is avoiding work.
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« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2012, 06:02:26 PM »

Does this sound like a good way to live? Normal? And think about this--in spite of how screwed up I am, I am better off than a lot of people out there. Why are there homeless people? Some just run into some bad breaks having to do with their job, family, etc. It can take quite a while to dig yourself out, with the length depending on how bad off you are and what resources you have available/are aware of. Other people are truly screwed up and screwed over.

My only thoughts are sincere gratitude and admiration Asterkitos. I would probably say emotions, but some people consider it suspect compared to "rational" thought.
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« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2012, 06:07:35 PM »

Does this sound like a good way to live? Normal? And think about this--in spite of how screwed up I am, I am better off than a lot of people out there. Why are there homeless people? Some just run into some bad breaks having to do with their job, family, etc. It can take quite a while to dig yourself out, with the length depending on how bad off you are and what resources you have available/are aware of. Other people are truly screwed up and screwed over.

My only thoughts are sincere gratitude and admiration Asterkitos. I would probably say emotions, but some people consider it suspect compared to "rational" thought.

Agreed and thank you Asteriktos for your words. We ought not to condemn our brothers and sisters unless we have truly walked in their shoes. The gospel of the Final Judgment tells us clearly and without ambiguity those grounds upon which we ultimately shall be judged. Holy Week is upon some of us and for us Orthodox it is on the horizon. Let us use the time before the Great Day wisely.
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« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2012, 06:21:20 PM »

The truth is that if one truly follows Christ's teachings to the fullest, they will get what He got in this life. No possessions, no home, lucky to have food and clothes when they do, eventually taken advantage of and bled to death by the ones they try to help.

I fall way short of this standard, and not because of a lack of opportunity.
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« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2012, 10:24:54 PM »

There's nothing wrong with being judicious and prudent in how one gives alms. The same goes for how one deals with people in general.

The Lord said that the poor are always going to be around. What is the greater benefit? Giving money to someone who asks, but may just be lazy, or giving money to where it is definitely needed, where you know it is going to serve people's needs? I think the latter. We're not called to be careless stewards.

I tend to agree with this. When it seems to me that the person truly will use my money to benefit himself (by buying food or buying a spot at the local shelter, for example), I have no problem giving a little money if I have it to spare. Also, if a guy is selling something (such as baskets he's made), I also have no problem paying him for one, and the same goes for making a donation when I encounter street musicians--talented or not.

Now if it seems to me they will only use it to buy more alcohol or drugs, I'll say no. If nothing else, it bothers me that, through my actions, I am helping another person fall further into sin. Same goes for people who obviously appear like they're avoiding work.

And also, with as small of a budget as I have, I frequently don;t have a lot to spare.
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« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2012, 12:06:16 PM »

If someone asks for money and I have it I try to give it to them.  (Not that I'm anyone to emulate, I usually hope that God see's me and decides that this is the one act that keeps me from deserved damnation, or that in his mercy he will keep [insert female name here] from dumping/shooting me down.)  Frankly, I don't care what they buy with it.  I'm just going to blow it on stuff that is useless towards my salvation anyway.  If they go out and buy drugs or alcohol with it, then so be it.  If God decides to call them to repentance He is plenty capable of doing so without me trying to remove their specks.  Just read about St. Mary of Egypt.  God is plenty capable of calling sinners to repentance.

As for an abusive relationship - I'm sure if you just suck it up and deal with it then I'm sure God will recognize your sacrifice.  As for me, I was in such a situation not too long ago and had to leave it.  Was it a good decision on my part?  Only time will tell.  I pray pretty much daily about this, though I doubt that God will let me get off scott-free for this. 
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« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2012, 03:22:48 PM »

If someone asks for money and I have it I try to give it to them.  (Not that I'm anyone to emulate, I usually hope that God see's me and decides that this is the one act that keeps me from deserved damnation, or that in his mercy he will keep [insert female name here] from dumping/shooting me down.)  Frankly, I don't care what they buy with it.  I'm just going to blow it on stuff that is useless towards my salvation anyway.  If they go out and buy drugs or alcohol with it, then so be it.  If God decides to call them to repentance He is plenty capable of doing so without me trying to remove their specks.  Just read about St. Mary of Egypt.  God is plenty capable of calling sinners to repentance.

As for an abusive relationship - I'm sure if you just suck it up and deal with it then I'm sure God will recognize your sacrifice.  As for me, I was in such a situation not too long ago and had to leave it.  Was it a good decision on my part?  Only time will tell.  I pray pretty much daily about this, though I doubt that God will let me get off scott-free for this.  

Well said.

When I was a kid, living in the parish house, the bell would ring at all hours. You never knew who was knocking, but if it were at odd hours, it usually wasn't something good. Anyway, I used to be resentful as a boy because my father would never turn away someone looking for a little bit of help - he knew the regulars really didn't need money for gas to visit their mother in the hospital in Scranton - except he would tell me that the time he would say no to that request it just might be Christ knocking at the door (allegorically, of course) and the man's mother or child might really be sick.

I was resentful because as living in a priest's family, there never never was much money around the house for 'us' for the things our friends would always seem to possess. I know now that the gift of his kindness to strangers was a far greater gift to me than I ever knew when I was a child. He wasn't a softy - some of the regulars might get fifty cents back in the day and directions to Catholic Charities or the Volunteers of America shelter but even if he didn't have much to give them he gave them respect and a kind word - and sometimes a tough one if the person were drunk or disorderly. Of course, the world was a bit different then.
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« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2012, 04:45:51 PM »

There's really no blanket advice that can be given for dealing with abusive relationships. These have to be approached with utmost care. Too many people try to "suck it up," and end up worse off, or dead.
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« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2012, 09:39:28 PM »

The truth is that if one truly follows Christ's teachings to the fullest, they will get what He got in this life. No possessions, no home, lucky to have food and clothes when they do, eventually taken advantage of and bled to death by the ones they try to help.

I fall way short of this standard, and not because of a lack of opportunity.

Me too.  It's my weakness as well.  Many monastics even have it good in comparison.  I wonder in the event of somebody having children, what standards there would be.

I think you defined a lot of what "taking up your cross and following him" would be like.
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« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2012, 11:55:06 PM »

Just a note that I failed to go backwards in time. I want to note that Gebre's post is likewise commendable.

Is there anything that we as Christians can do to avoid this or prevent this from happening?

The short answer is "no," there is no way to absolutely prevent others from taking advantage of us.

There is no Christian formula that will ensure that others will not abuse our kindness. So all we can do is try to balance unconditional love and charity with sound wisdom and good judgment. This is not easy to do.

I usually give spare change to panhandlers if I have it to give. Most of the time they probably are going to use it for alcohol or drugs, but I don't know that for sure.  And maybe they will die if they don't get a drink or a fix very soon. Or, they could be an angel in disguise. On a few occasions I have actually gone to a fast food place and purchased a cheap meal and brought it back to persons that held a sign saying "Will work for food." Each time the people were very grateful and immediately began devouring the food.

The point is, I try to apply the Golden Rule in such situations. Giving a little bit of loose change requires no effort on my part, and it might make a world of difference to the person who receives it. But everyone has to make their own judgment in such situations.

Living with a perpetually abusive spouse, relative, or friend is a different matter. If they are persistent in physically or emotionally abusing you, then you need to separate yourself from them. You can still love them and help them without having to subject yourself to their constant abuse.

Turning the other cheek means that you don't reciprocate the violence being done unto you. It means loving your enemies unconditionally. But if you are able to nionviolently extricate yourself from an abusive situation, then it is certainly not unChristian to do so.

Being disappointed is a different matter. People will always disappoint us, and we will always disappoint others. If we look to people for fulfillment rather than looking to Christ, then we shall always be disappointed. So, I don't think that we should forsake relationships when the other party disappoints us. Disappointment and abuse are not the same thing. But hey, human relationships are tough sometimes; yet they afford us an opportunity to practice unconditional love and Christian charity.

OK, those are my brief thoughts for the time being. Excellent question.

Selam
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